Isaiah Robertson came into Junior Day with a working knowledge of what Notre Dame is about on and off the football field.
Robertson, a four-star junior wide receiver from Naperville, Ill., comes from an area stocked with Irish fans. He’s a friend of cornerback Julian Love, a commitment in the Class of 2016. Back in the fall, Robertson visited on a game day.
Yet even with all that background, Robertson left campus Saturday evening after a day of tours and presentations feeling he’d seen the place anew.
“They talked a lot about sports for sure,” Robertson said. “But really what was the most eye-opening thing was the academic talk they had with us. Just explaining that at Notre Dame it’s more than a four-year experience. What really caught me, I realize one day football is gonna end for me. I wanna be able to provide for my family and stuff like that. They really showed me at Notre Dame I could make that happen and there’s no school in the country that can make that happen for me. It really opened my eyes to some of the more mature things outside football.”
Robertson learned plenty on the football side of things too.
Toward the end of the day, prospects broke into small groups to meet with position coaches. Robertson and fellow four-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones watched some video and discussed the system with associate head coach Mike Denbrock.
Denbrock coaches the wide receivers and serves as area recruiter for Robertson as well.
“He was really just talking to us,” Robertson said. “He was explaining what he was looking for with the wideouts and he was explaining that you need to be able to play all the wideout positions — one, two, three, four and five — just to expand the offense. He was telling us how we could really impact the Notre Dame offense. It was just really cool to talk to coach Denbrock about the receivers as whole.”
Robertson learned more about what he can expect from Denbrock and Notre Dame as the recruiting process continues to unfold.
Already the 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect is considering scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State, Syracuse and Wisconsin, among others. Notre Dame didn’t offer during the visit but could down the road.
Denbrock told Robertson he’d be making a stop Neuqua Valley High School and the Irish would continue their evaluation. Robertson is eager to work toward an offer.
“It’s definitely motivating,” Robertson said. “But if anything, it’s humbling just to remind you that you’ve still gotta keep working. To go to a place as special as Notre Dame, you’ve gotta work for it. Nothing comes easy, especially at Notre Dame. It’s another reminder for me to know that it’s out there but if I’m really gonna get it I have to work harder.”
Robertson doesn’t have any other visits set up at this point, although he picked Illinois and Maryland as a couple programs he’d like to see.
“It gives you a chance to expand and grow as a person and to have opportunities to do more than just football,” Robertson said. “With Notre Dame, I already knew it going in, but that’s the message I was getting. You have to be prepared for life after football. That’s really on my mind and is something I’m going to look at when I look at colleges now.”